Hi everyone and Happy Friday! I hope you’ve all had a great week. If you’ve been following me over on Instagram (@retroflame), you will know that Kaelin and I have been in Tulum, Mexico for the last four days. We booked a really last minute trip last Saturday (I explained in-depth here why) and flew out on Monday – definitely the most spur of the moment thing I have done in a while! It’s a place that was on my bucket list for the longest time, and after another trip got postponed, I just decided to do it and we are so glad that we did. It was even better than we expected it to be.
We had the most fun few days there and a lot of you seemed to love the photos I posted. So today I wanted to share a full travel guide + everything I wore during the trip. It was a quick trip so we didn’t get to do absolutely everything on our list but we definitely squeezed a lot in and made it to a lot of great places. I did a lot of research before we went, but still found it a little hard to figure/plan out, so if you’re planning on going too, I hope you find it helpful..
HOW WE GOT THERE
New York – Cancun: We flew with Interjet from JFK to Cancun which was very affordable considering we booked it so last minute. We did have a 3 hour delay coming back but overall both flights were very straight forward.
Cancun – Tulum: Something I found a little hard to figure out when doing research before the trip was the best (& safest) way to get from Cancun airport to Tulum. I know there are buses you can get but I read very mixed reviews, so luckily, a friend of mine recommended a shuttle service and we found them fantastic. They are called Top Cancun Shuttles and it took just over an hour and a half to get from the airport to our hotel. They were super professional, on-time and the bus (for just the two of us) was fully air-conditioned. I think you can also book shuttles through your hotel, but from what I’ve heard, they can sometimes over-charge you, so I would definitely recommend the one we went with.
WHERE TO STAY
Firstly, let me just tell you, there are A LOT of hotels there so it can definitely be a little confusing. But from what I saw while I was there (we did a lot of hotel hopping), for the most part, they’re all really really good. In the end, we went with a hotel called ‘El Pez‘. A friend of mine, Josie, had stayed there recently and when I saw it pop up on my ‘Hotel Tonight’, I just went for it. We had been looking on booking.com (came close to booking one called ‘Tata Tulum’) but when I saw El Pez for $200 cheaper on Hotel Tonight than it was on Booking.com, I knew I was getting a deal. (Not sponsored by the way, I just use that app all the time).
It’s part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group so I knew it had to be a good one. The staff could not have been nicer, it wasn’t too far from anything we wanted to see (we biked most places) AND they brought coffee to our room each morning. Oh and with the rate we paid, we also got a three-course breakfast included each morning which was amazing. Like all hotels in Tulum, the rooms are pretty minimalistic but still have everything you need and we also had a beautiful balcony looking out onto the sea. We really really enjoyed our stay there!
Other hotels we looked into included Tata Tulum, Nomade, BeTulum and Sanara which we visited during our trip and loved! Photos below. I would definitely consider staying there next time I am back. They have a lovely restaurant called ‘The Real Coconut’ which does the BEST coffee. And look at the decor!
WHERE TO EAT
I almost don’t know where to start with this one as there are SO many good options, but below are some of the places we made it to….
Posada Margharita – We ate here on our second night and I think it was our favorite place. It’s a little restaurant on the beach that specializes in home made pasta and the whole experience was just lovely. I highly recommend it!
Hartwood – This was definitely the most common recommendation I got so I was looking forward to seeing what all the fuss was about. We had heard that the wait can be very long and that it books up super fast, but luckily enough we hit it at the right time and only had a wait of 10 minutes. (Get there as early as you can.) I am so glad we did end up going because the food was absolutely incredible. I’m still thinking about it! We both opted for vegetarian options and shared and everything was so tasty. Definitely try to go if you visit but be sure to get there early and bring cash too as they don’t take card!
Raw Love – Most days, we usually had big breakfasts at the hotel and that kept us going until dinner time but one of the days we got lunch in Raw Love. It’s this really cute spot that specializes in healthy vegan options. We both got Acai bowls and they were delicious. The service was great too. I would definitely recommend checking it out!
Azulik – We went to a hotel called ‘Azulik’ for dinner on our first night. I had heard a lot of mixed reviews about staying at the hotel itself but I still wanted to check it out so we opted to go there for dinner & drinks. It definitely was a very cool experience – the waiting area is a huge net hanging over the lobby which honestly made me very nervous but was cool all the same. We waited for about an hour (we didn’t have a reservation) and then had dinner in what basically felt like the jungle, haha! Being honest, I loved the bar area (despite the fact that it was roasting!!) but I wouldn’t recommend the dinner unless you really want to splash out. Portions were small and it’s pricy, so instead I would just recommend doing drinks there at sunset.
WHERE TO DRINK
Mur Mur – We found this bar on our last night. It was right next to ‘Hartwood’ which we had just eaten in and we had such a nice time there. It has swings all around the bar and such a chilled vibe. We must have sat there for about 2 hours. I will definitely be back!
Gitano – This is a Mexican restaurant that had also been highly recommended to me but unfortunately we ran out of nights to eat there so we decided to get a drink after dinner one night. I’m so glad we did because it was SO nice! The cocktails were so good and there was live music. I would definitely love to go back and try the food.
Matcha Mama – We went to Matcha Mama on the first day and it was definitely a decision influenced by Instagram (& Kaelin’s love for Matcha). It’s a cute spot to get some photos and Kaelin said the matcha was good but overall I felt a little underwhelmed by it. The service was very rude and I personally, didn’t love my coffee there. But if you’re passing by on your bike and love Matcha, give it a go!
La Zebra – This hotel is a sister hotel to La Pez, the one we stayed in. When we arrived they gave us drink vouchers for La Zebra so we made sure to check it out. It has lovely beach bar that serves custom cocktails and we really liked it there. There also seem to be a lot of families there, so if you’re visiting with kids, this could be a good hotel option.
Coco Tulum – Another very famous Instagram spot is Coco Tulum. It’s a hotel & beach club with swings looking out on to the beach. Again it was one of those places that underwhelmed me a little bit but the drinks were good and it was a fun place to chill for an hour!
WHERE TO SEE
Grand Cenote – Ok this was hands down the highlight of the whole trip. We had heard so much about the beautiful cenotes in Tulum so we were very excited to see one in person. We decided to visit the ‘Grand Cenote’ because it wasn’t too far from our hotel and it did NOT disappoint. It was about a 10 minute drive from our hotel and it cost around $10 for entry. The water was so beautiful, we saw turtles and it definitely made for some cool pictures. I’m literally scared of everything and not the most adventurous when it comes to swimming in places like this, but I made myself jump in for a few minutes and it was so so refreshing. I knew I would regret it if I didn’t! Definitely make it a priority to go to one or a few of these.
Mayan Ruins – We had also been told to visit the famous Mayan Ruins so we squeezed that in too but to be honest, in hindsight, I would have skipped this. They were very cool to see but we went at a time (11am) that was FAR too hot to enjoy them and I got SO many mosquito bites. I just don’t think it was worth it but if you do have your heart set on it be sure to go very early to avoid the heat and crowds. It cost 70 pesos for entry.
TOP TIPS – WHAT I WISH I KNEW
*Bring Pesos – There is no electricity on the main strip of Tulum so they have to generate their own in each hotel/restaurant. Because of this they do not accept card in many places so be sure to bring enough cash. They accept dollars & pesos but I would recommend bringing pesos as they usually give you your change back in pesos and it can get confusing.
*It doesn’t really matter where you stay – Being very honest it doesn’t matter hugely what hotel you stay in as you spend a lot of your time exploring. We loved our hotel but barely spent any time there so we were really happy we didn’t splash out on a very expensive place for such a short trip. If I went back, I think I might stay in the area near ‘Hartwood’ restaurant as this was a lovely area at night and it would be so convenient to be able to walk here. Also, I’ve heard it’s much cheaper to stay in the town and it really isn’t that far away at all.
*Rent Bikes – We rented bikes the first two days of the trip and it was so fun. They cost us 420 pesos altogether and it was so worth it and a lot more affordable than constantly getting taxis. It’s also the best way to see the place!
*Be Cautious – Overall, the people in Tulum were so lovely but a few people did try to scam us. For example, when we visited the Cenote, our taxi driver tried to convince us to book a return trip as he said it would be difficult to get a taxi back which was not the case. A man also tried to sell us tickets for the ruins at the entrance where the taxi dropped us off which were fake so just be cautious. Always ask your the taxi driver how much the fare will be before getting in and ask the receptionist at your hotel if it is correct.
*Bring mosquito spray – I completely forgot mosquito spray and got really badly bitten so be sure to bring it and use it. You’ll thank me later!
*The Heat – Ok, I’m not going to lie, it is HOT and VERY SWEATY in Tulum. I definitely struggled a little, haha! If you’re not a crazy fan of the heat, I asked the guys in our hotel which are the best & cooler months to go there and he said between October – February. So definitely keep that in mind if you’d rather a more mild temperature.
WHAT I WORE
We truly enjoyed the trip SO much and it’s a place I can 100% see myself returning to over & over again. It’s fun, has the most amazing character and the people are so lovely. I’m so so glad we decided to finally tick it off our list.
I hope you enjoyed all of the content and found these tips helpful. I’m currently working on the vlog from the trip (so you can see a better look at everything) so keep an eye out for that today or tomorrow.
Have a great weekend & chat soon,